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Law school says it has recovered stolen $173,000

By Travis Anderson
Globe Staff / October 11, 2011

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A Boston law school has recovered about $173,000 that a former administrator last week admitted to stealing, and has put in place safeguards to protect the institution against future thefts, according to the dean.

John F. O’Brien, dean of New England Law Boston, a 103-year-old institution formerly known as New England School of Law, made the announcement in an e-mail to students and staff on Friday. The note was obtained by the Globe over the weekend.

“Though we are dismayed that a single employee acted in bad faith, I am confident that this was an isolated incident,’’ O’Brien wrote.

He sent the message after Douglas Leman, 46, the school’s former controller, pleaded guilty on Thursday in federal court in Boston to charges that he stole the funds between September 2008 and March 2011.

While O’Brien wrote that the school has recovered the money, he did not specify how. A New England Law spokeswoman said the school would not elaborate on O’Brien’s e-mail and there would be no further comment.

Leman is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 13, and prosecutors are requesting that he be ordered to pay full restitution to the school, court records show.

As part of the scheme, he created false charges on the accounts of former students and then issued checks payable to him or his wife against the accounts, authorities said.

O’Brien wrote that employees discovered the theft after Leman was dismissed for other reasons. He did not explain why Leman was let go.

Neither Leman, a Lynnfield resident, nor his lawyer, Scott Gediman of Everett, would discuss the firing when reached by phone. Gediman said last week that Leman was “a good man who made a mistake’’ and promptly accepted responsibility for his actions.

New England Law, located downtown, was founded in 1908 as a law school exclusively for women. It is now coed and offers full-time and part-time instruction, according to its website.

The school has implemented additional safeguards to protect against theft and to improve overall fiscal management, O’Brien wrote in the e-mail.

Travis Andersen can be reached at tandersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.